Recruiting epidemiological models to estimate first round economic, welfare and public finance effects of COVID 19 strategies
The COVID-19 epidemic was identified in China in December 2019. By April 2020 it is a widespread epidemic and the initial public policy responses have already been enacted in most countries. Very commonly this includes some sort of lockdown to prevent infections and some sort of social protection and in some cases business support to ameliorate the immediate economic impacts of the lockdown. Both the disease and the initial ‘reflex’ response can be treated as an external shock.
As of May 2020, most of the public policy choices are about what to do next.
- How quickly should the blanket lockdown be relaxed?
- What should replace the blanket lockdown once it ends, in terms of alternative public health measures and healthcare investments?
- What can be done to minimize the longer-term economic damage, public finances and debt sustainability?
- What can be done to recover more quickly once the pandemic has passed?
A critical part of the information needed to answer the first two questions is, what is the impact of policy on the course of the epidemic, on infections and deaths?